Governor suspends Georgia mayor facing fraud, theft charges

Credit: City of Waynesboro

Credit: City of Waynesboro

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday issued an executive order removing a small-town Georgia mayor from office following his arrest last summer on theft and identity fraud charges.

Waynesboro Mayor Gregory Carswell’s suspension comes nearly six months after he was indicted on one count each of identity fraud, theft by taking, theft by deception and second-degree forgery. The governor’s order removes Carswell from office until his case has been disposed or until his term expires, whichever comes first.

Carswell’s charges stem from his arrest last July in Statesboro after he was accused of taking nearly $12,000 from a title pawn business where he had worked, the Augusta Chronicle reported. He was reportedly fired after using identifying information to refinance two title pawn accounts without the person’s consent.

ExploreSmall-town Georgia mayor arrested on theft, fraud charges

Carswell, who took office in 2017, announced at a May 17 council meeting that he was taking a leave of absence to deal with his personal and legal issues, the newspaper reported.

“It is with deep regret and mixed emotions that I come to you today that I’m going to take a leave of absence,” he reportedly told council members “In the best interest of the city and of the citizens and for my family, I need to take a leave of absence to make sure that I’m there for them.”

The father of seven is the first Black man and the youngest person to serve as Waynesboro’s mayor, according to his biography on the city’s website. Waynesboro is located in east Georgia, about 30 miles south of Augusta.